Tis the Season: No Matter What Comes, Christmas is Still Christmas

Christmas Eve is usually my favorite day of the year, but we’re running a bit low on holiday cheer in my house.  Over the past few days, my family has been thrown one curveball after another–from our power going out to my grandpa ending up in the hospital.

Initially, I had something VERY different planned for today’s Tis the Season.  This wasn’t a post I expected, but it needed to be written.

I’ll start with Grandpa.  Early on Monday, he checked himself into the Emergency Room with pain in his abdomen.  He thought it was food poisoning.  It turned out to be much worse.  On Tuesday, he had emergency surgery.  Removing a gallbladder is usually a short procedure (or so I’ve been told), but Grandpa’s took hours.  The surgery didn’t go well at all–due to a poor diet, his gallbladder was completely dead.  Taking it out set off several complications.

The thing about Grandpa is that it’s very hard for him to give up control.  I love him very much, but he can be domineering at times.  He likes his independence.  When I visited him on Monday, he looked exhausted from the pain and irritable for not being able to do things on his own.  He doesn’t like to be a burden to others.  The fact that various extended family have driven hours to help care for him makes him feel guilty.  Of course, post-surgery, I don’t know how lucid he is.  Mom’s been there every day and says he looks awful.

Because of this, Christmas plans have been shuffled around quite a bit.  We haven’t watched our normal movies or made our holiday yum-yums.  Mom hasn’t even wrapped presents yet.

On to the power outage.  Yesterday brought a mix of rain, sleet, and snow, resulting in hazardous driving conditions.  As I headed home from work, I noticed a car in the ditch.  Its hood had been completely ripped off and little bits of mechanical parts littered the ditch.  It turns out, the car ran straight into an electrical pole, tearing the power line in several places.

So… no electricity, no running water, no wifi.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  However, my brother and I planned on catching up on holiday baking.  It’s hard to bake cookies without a working oven.  Also, I hadn’t eaten lunch and couldn’t open the refrigerator, lest I let all the cold out.

We solved the no-power problem by taking our supplies to Grandpa’s now-vacant house and using his kitchen under the supervision of our sassy Southern aunt.

Things aren’t all bad, though.  My family still made it to church last night and then went to see the new Star Wars.  The power is on again, so we’re able to watch Christmas movies and decorate all the cookies we baked.  We’re still having steak dinner, followed by opening gifts around the Christmas tree.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.  I often idealize the holiday season as a never-changing remnant of my childhood, but it’s so much more than that.  Traditions may fall by the wayside and plans may be changed last minute, but Christmas is still Christmas.  My family is still here and there are still a thousand reasons to be thankful.

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Tis the Season is an annual holiday-themed series on Keep Your Feet.  The goal is to bring the blogging community together to celebrate holiday memories and traditions.

I’m Crossing the Pond

I have big news.

I’ve been holding on to this post for a while, unsure when to actually make my plans public. But this morning I woke up and thought, “Screw it. I’m putting it on the blog.”

I’m going back to England in January.

If you had told me a month ago that my next adventure is right around the corner, I don’t think I would have believed you.  It’s been a whirlwind few weeks, watching my dreams solidify into something tangible.

A few weeks ago, I published a particularly depressing post  where I vented about feeling directionless.   I shared it on Facebook and, a few hours later, got a text from my aunt recommending a ministry called L’Abri.

What is L’Abri?  It’s a ministry that integrates intellectual study with everyday life.  Half of the time is spent studying theology and discussing hard questions in Christianity.  The other half is spent contributing to everyday life in the form of everyday, practical tasks.  It’s an open door for anyone wanting to stay.  All you have to do is let them know you’re coming.  There is a cost, but it’s not high.

I did some research and tucked L’Abri in the corner of my mind.  Within the next week, it seemed to crop up everywhere… which made me stop in my tracks and begin to hope.  As I curled up in bed at night, I imagined myself there, living in an old manor house, engaging intellectually with the faith that is the center point of my life.  Once the idea took root, there was no stopping back.

I decided to send an email.  It’s amazing how a single message can change your course.  I inquired about their openings for their Spring term, never expecting them to say yes.

A week and a half later, here I am, L’Abri confirmation letter in one hand and a one-way ticket to Europe in the other.  I’ll be crossing the pond a few days before my program begins to give myself time to recover from jet lag and wander the streets of London, my favorite city in the world.  I’m going to buy my return ticket later, as I hope to do some traveling when my program is done.  I’ve got a friend studying abroad in Berlin that I might visit and I don’t want to pass by an opportunity to visit my Austrian friends.

It’s hard to believe that this is my life.

There is so much to accomplish in the next month and a half, but for the first time in ages, I have direction.  It’s a scary step, uprooting myself and moving across the globe all on my own.  But it feels right. I’m torn between terror and wild excitement and couldn’t be more content.

I’ll end this with a fitting quote from my hero, J.K. Rowling.  

Whimsy & Climbing Mountains

Some days, the future feels like a looming, messy mountain that I don’t know how to climb.  I’ve been in a period of transition for the past six months–suspended between one area of life and another.  There are so many roads, so many possibilities, and the constant pressure to know my route.  “What are you doing now that you’ve graduated college, Amelia?”  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “When are you going to have things figured out?”  I do my best to push aside the uncertainties, but some days it just eats at me.

Today, though, the future feels whimsical.  I don’t know where life will lead me.  I’m not planning it out.  My strategy is to take things one step at a time, starting with this day.   If I can figure out the now, I can cross the next bridge when I come to it.

This evening, my mom and I had some quality Mother/Daughter time.  We went shopping, saw a movie in theaters, and had dinner at a restaurant.  It was so much fun to get away from work and just soak in life.  The drive home brought deep conversations about life, faith, and the future.  Our talk got the gears turning in my mind, which lead me to writing this post.

Recently, I came across the following quote:

“Whimsy doesn’t care if you are the driver or the passenger; all that matters is that you are on your way.” Bob Goff, Love Does

There are a lot of great things happening in my life right now.  Tomorrow, I attend a board meeting that will solidify my first big girl/real adult job.  It’s not a full-time position, nor is it permanent.  It’s a a door that has opened unexpectedly–I didn’t apply for it…  It just sort of happened. But it’s perfect opportunity to gain professional skills and get me from one place to the next.

The future is still there and it is still very much unknown.  But right now, the mountain doesn’t seem so daunting.  From where I’m standing, the mountain is beautiful and I’m starting to see the path.  I can’t wait to lace up my boots and start climbing.

There are so many things I’m unsure of.  But I know one thing: I’m on my way.

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I’m normally not a taker of selfies, but yesterday was so sunny and lovely I couldn’t help myself. (Also, it was a good hair day, which is rare.)

The Future and why I’m not planning for it

“I’m just so stressed out!  I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life!”

This was said to me a couple of months ago by a high school friend.  I merely gaped at her.  “You’re sixteen,” I thought, “you don’t have to know it all now.”

There’s this idea in our culture that we have to have our entire lives planned out at the age of eighteen.  We need to know where we are going to college, what we will study, and what we will do after graduating.  Then we go to college, change our minds over and over again, graduate, and our careers have nothing to do with what we study.

With holidays coming up, I’m bracing myself for inevitable: “So, you’re a senior in college… what are you going to do next?”

My answer: I don’t know.

I’m twenty-two years old and I do not know what I’m going to do with my life.  And, frankly, I am okay with that.

When I graduate, I fully expect to move home and work until I have the next steps figured out.  A lot of people are ashamed of moving back in with their parents.  I am okay with that.

Ideally, I want to go into ministry.  I want to spend my life doing something worthwhile, building the Kingdom, and serving people.  I’m interested in working within the missions sphere.  I’m not planning on being a missionary, but if that is something that happens, I’m open to the possibility.

I don’t know what steps I’m going to take along the road.  I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now.

But that’s okay.  I’m young.  I’m single.  I can go out into the world and do whatever I want.  (Assuming I get paid enough to pay off my student loans, that is.)

The thing is that people change.  I came to college to study what I’m passionate about, and I have had a blast.  But five years from now, my passions will be different.  Ten years from now, they’ll change even more.

I’m not worried about the future.  Maybe I should be, but I’m not.  I know vaguely where I want to go and, for now, that is more than enough.  The idea that I need to plan all the details of my life right now is ridiculous.  Who knows what will happen?  What’s the point of figuring it all out when it will probably change?

Life is about adventure.  I want to soak in as much as I can.  So I’m going to muddle through the now and embrace whatever comes next.

Friday Favorites 9

Time for another edition of Friday Favorites…

A cup of tea on a chilly afternoon

Temperatures, in true Minnesota fashion, have dipped into the fifties this week and it feels like Fall for the first time!  After a summer of athletic shorts and grubby t-shirts, I’ve finally brought out my cardigans, scarves, leggings, and boots.  After a full morning of classes and time at the gym, I settled into a flannel and leggings to read Dickens.  What better way to complete the afternoon by brewing a cup of tea?

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My Shakespeare mug only makes things that much better.

This article:

What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, and Why It’s Killing Doctor Who

Yes, it was written almost a year ago.  But the writer perfectly articulates my frustrations with the recent seasons of Doctor Who.  I picked up the show back in high school when David Tennant still reigned supreme under the guidance of Russell T. Davies.  Since then, the fandom has swollen and it’s become part of nerdy pop culture.  Which, honestly, I’m fine with because it’s a great show.  But the past few seasons have left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I haven’t been sure why.  This article hits the nail on the head.  If you’re a Doctor Who fan, I definitely encourage you to check it out!

Nothing Much to Do

I’m a big fan of literary web shows.  In fact, I just did an informative speech on them in class today!  Shortly after giving said speech, a friend texted me saying “You are to use this weekend to actually watch Nothing Much to Do.  This is your new homework.”  I had picked up this fun adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing last year, watched a few episodes, and never went further.  But, as my friend commanded, I resumed watching again and have really enjoyed it!  The acting is decent, production of a good quality, and you gotta love those New Zealand accents!

This Canoe Trip:

This summer, as part of our extended Program staff training at camp, we were treated two what I affectionately call the Canoe Trip from Hell.  The trip included being woken up at three in the morning and two full days on the Brule River with essentially no food.  I wrote a short post about it a few months ago with more details.

Here we all are at the end of our trip, triumphant on the shore of Lake Superior.  Good grief, I miss these people.

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That is all for this week’s edition of Friday Favorites!  With that, I’m going to settle in for a quiet, relaxing weekend in Morris.

Got any exciting plans this weekend?  Feel free to tell me about them in the comments!